Co Antrim woman Helen Vizard is appealing for volunteers to come forward to join the NSPCC’s Schools Service and help educate a new generation of schoolchildren about keeping themselves safe.
NSPCC Northern Ireland is looking to reach even more children following record figures in the last academic year (2017-2018) when 67,129 children across Northern Ireland attended special Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies.
These ground-breaking assemblies teach primary school children how to keep themselves safe from abuse and neglect.
With the help of “Buddy” the mascot, the Speak Out Stay Safe programme is delivered by specially-trained NSPCC staff and volunteers who deliver age appropriate messages which link directly to the curriculum helping children aged 4-11 to:
- Understand abuse in all its forms and recognise the signs that it’s happening
- Learn how to protect themselves from all forms of abuse
- Recognise both how to get help and the sources of help available to them, including Childline
The service aims to visit every primary school in Northern Ireland and across the UK every three years and in the last academic year, in Northern Ireland 356 primary schools were visited.
Helen, from Carrickfergus, has been volunteering with the NSPCC for the past four years.
She said: “I signed up as a volunteer a few years ago after I retired. There is only so much golfing and walking I can do and I wanted to give something back.
“I heard an ad on my local radio long for volunteers and I thought that was something I could do. I wanted to do something purposeful, which would also utilise the knowledge and skills I had gained over the years.
“It was a natural progression to work with, and on behalf of, children because of my background working as a teacher and with children with special needs. It was also appealing to work in the youthful, stimulating environment of schools and be back out socialising and working with new colleagues.”
She added: “I have really enjoyed volunteering with the NSPCC Schools Service. It is very rewarding to bring important messages to children at their own level and it is motivating to work with lively young people.
“It is good to have a sense of belonging to the team of volunteers and to feel part of the schools’ community. Volunteers come from a whole variety of interesting backgrounds. I have met some amazing people through volunteering and I would encourage other people to give it a go.
“The feedback from the schools is always very positive and we receive helpful training and lots of support and encouragement from the NSPCC.”
Karen Walker, Schools Manager with the NSPCC, said: “Without the support of our volunteers, our programme simply couldn’t exist. We are always looking for committed volunteers to join our team.
“It’s a great way to meet new people and learn a new skill, while giving something back. The NSPCC give you all the training and support you need to feel confident in your role. We ask for a minimum commitment of three deliveries a month within school hours.”
If you would like more information on how to volunteer for the NSPCC Schools Service please visit the NSPCC website at: www.nspcc.org.uk